Nurse Sununu/Ratched at the RNC was a hit. But my little story was incomplete — and Robert S., a wonderful wise LRC reader, sent in the rest of the analogy:
6:11 am on September 2, 2012 Email Karen Kwiatkowski
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest has always been one of my favorite films and up until this point I had failed to make any connection between the struggles of the patients to modern political movements. Yet as you point out, there it is, plain as day. The party leaders are indeed Nurse Ratched personified, and they have certainly tried to “lobotomize” the Paulian movement setting up camp in their little fiefdom.
If I can take this analogy a few steps further, I think Jack Nicholson’s Randle McMurphy is not dissimilar in many ways to libertarian political activists, in that within the walls of the mental institution he is caged, McMurphy tries to reform and rebel against the totalitarian rules. Running time and time again into the futility of these actions, he is eventually driven to a one-to-one physical confrontation with Nurse Ratched, and almost wins the fight. And with that, the power hungry custodians find their excuse to incapacitate McMurphy with a devastating brain surgery that leaves him a vegetable.
From 2007 to 2012, the Ron Paul movement has reformed and rebelled, making more progress politically than anyone in the ruling class could envision in their dreams (nightmares?). In 2007, they were a thorn in the side of the media, causing embarrassment and frustration with presidential debate polls, email campaigns, and a rival rally next door to the 2008 RNC in St Paul, Minnesota. In the next two years, they became a force to contend with, electing numerous Paul-endorsed candidates around the country. Then in 2012 they truly become dangerous. Learning from their mistakes in the past, the Paulites showed unprecedented resourcefulness and political finesse as they won up to eleven states and came within inches of the ultimate “McMurphy-Nurse Ratched” confrontation: a brokered convention.
But the RNC has the power to lobotomize, and lobotomize they did. Iowa, Maine, Louisiana, Nevada, Missouri… and the final brutal surgery, the 2012 RNC. For all their work, the incredible, diligent, resourceful liberty activists ended up with as much power as Randal McMurphy the vegetable.
At the end of the film, McMurphy’s friend, Chief, commits a bitter-sweet act of kindness for the lobotomized man, and smothers him with a pillow. Feeling empowered thanks to the life of McMurphy, a shining example of rebellion, Chief escapes the mental institution and walks away.
In this moment, we are Chief. And we have our dear friend, McMurphy the activist who has been dealt a mortal blow. With all the love and respect we can afford someone who woke us out of apathy, we must snuff out our friend and learn from his example. The Republican party, and indeed the political sphere as a whole is an institution for the mentally deranged. And it is from this institution that we must turn and walk away, free.